Review: The Patience of Trees at MiF – now available to stream

Only a few days earlier, I’d enjoyed the wonder that was the Damon Albarn gig, as part of the very special Manchester International Festival.

Friday it was back to GMEX (am I being tedious refusing to get upto date with this? Such a mouthful) and the space had been transformed into a very different place.

‘A whisper of melody, played by a lone violin, gradually grows and shapes into the stirring sweep of a full string section – echoing, perhaps, the resolute journey of a seed from the Earth towards the Heavens.’

The Patience of Trees, is a new concerto for violin, strings and percussion by acclaimed composer Dobrinka Tabakova, forming the centrepiece of an immersive concert at Manchester Central during MIF21.

Devised by violinist Hugo Ticciati and performed with Manchester Camerata, the programme also featured:

  • Steve Reich New York Counterpoint
  • Paul Saggers Vulpes Vulpes World premiere
  • Julieta Szewach Todo Era Vuelo en Nuestra Tierra World premiere
  • Dobrinka Tabakova Frozen River Flows

Notoriously clumsy, I only managed one spilt water, no falls, as I was guided in low light to what appeared to be a wigwam in the middle of the hall.

In the centre of this kind of …classical yurt was the stage, resembling the rings of the tree, iPads ready for the musicians. The natural world meets digital.

The Magic Faraway Tree had never felt so real. But I should be clear that the stage and structure was beautiful yet simple in design. And it fell to the music to take us on a powerful and mystical journey through nature.

And whilst oft-used, immersive was the word.

Started by a lone violinist, one by one the orchestra entered our midst from outside the circle, and we were enveloped, in every sense of the word (masks on) by sounds and music, as the musicians took their places in the round.

What followed was 75 minutes of bliss and something akin to (or actual, had I the courage to close my eyes for the duration) meditation.

Evocative, the performance triggered thoughts and feelings of the natural world, the evolving day, the changing elements…

Were we not in the midst of a humid heatwave, physical goosebumps and spine tingles would have been the order of the day. Let us say I had the emotional shivers.

At the risk of appearing lazy, you can often kill a performance with chatter and overanalysis.

You should have been there!

I could cry.

A futile and annoying statement,

you may retort.

Well not quite.

MiF are providing a second chance to experience this wonderful concert.

The performance is available to stream as Video on Demand until Saturday 16 October 2021.

So find a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed, dim the lights and click here to book to watch online on a pay what you feel basis.

You can stream the entire concert on demand until 16 October 2021.

To read about this year’s rather wonderful Manchester International Festival, click here.

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